Today we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist. St. Luke’s account of the occasion tell of the rejoicing of the hill country over God’s giving a child to such aged, devout parents.
The Latin account of the Gospel we studied in the seminary brought the scene to life for us. Where our English account has old Elizabeth rejecting the name Zachariah by saying, “By no means, he will be called John.” For that “by no means” the Latin sounded more like the quacking of an old lady. It had her saying, “Nequaquam!”
The Baptism of the Baptist is a great holiday for the whole province of Quebec, and I was there once to feel a joy that echoed the original rejoicing at his birth. I met my favorite nun for breakfast at the Hotel Frontenac; and, spreading out our Scrabble board between our bacon and eggs, we were visited by a stream folks celebrating the feast in their Sunday best. Sister Larry and I didn’t have enough French between us to explain what Scrabble was all about.
The joyousness of this feast is actually a joy over the prospect of the coming of the Savior into our world. It is meant to stir up our true appreciation for Jesus humbling himself to come to us as our brother human.